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Thursday, 24 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 24 Nov 2011

Pak must deal with terror from its soil: India
Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, November 23 Days ahead of the third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, India reminded Pakistan to fulfill in letter and spirit its commitment of not allowing territory under its control to be used for fomenting terrorism against India.  “Our vision of a peaceful, cooperative and progressive South Asia cannot be realised unless the dark shadow of terrorism emanating from Pakistan is eliminated,” Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said in a speech on ‘Security dimensions of India’s foreign policy’ at the National Defence College.  Underlining that India was committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence, he said the first round of the resumed dialogue had been completed and New Delhi was committed to carry forward the discussions with an open mind and a forward looking approach.  “Our vision of a peaceful, cooperative and progressive South Asia cannot be realised unless the dark shadow of terrorism from Pakistan is eliminated,” Mathai added.  Talking about China, he said managing relations with Beijing would probably be the most critical element of security dimensions of India’s foreign policy. “Rapid strides in economic and military capabilities of China and the manner in which Beijing exercises its power is being followed carefully not only by us, but by other neighbours in East Asia, ASEAN and beyond,” he said.
Navy keeps eye on Iranian ship anchored off Kerala coast
The Indian Navy is keeping a close eye on Iranian merchant vessel MV Assa, anchored for over a month off the coast of Kerala [ Images ].  A strict watch is being kept on MV Assa, which is lying in the Indian exclusive economic zone, government sources said in New Delhi [ Images ].
The defence and the external affairs ministries were informed about the presence of the ship soon after it was observed there, they said. The type of cargo being carried by the ship is also not known.  India's [ Images ] EEZ extends till 200 nautical miles where it has exclusive right to resources but cannot interfere with commercial ships passing through from this zone. They said the ship has been lying between Kochi and Lakshadweep Islands for around a month and may have developed some snag in its engine.  Sources said as per international practices, navy can question the merchant vessels passing through country's EEZ but this ship has not been questioned so far.  An Iranian vessel named MV Assa is also in the sanctions list of the United States and the United Kingdom but it is not clear whether it is the same vessel.
Army displays its fire power
MHOW: Army War College, Mhow on Wednesday showcased its artillery strength displaying Bofors guns, T-72 tanks and T-90 Tanks. The armory were displayed before the media and officers from friendly foreign countries.  About 2000 officers from the Indian Army were present on the occasion. It was a combat leadership training programme for the officers.  The soldiers displayed their fighting skills in a dummy war-like situation on a battle field. The soldiers in their combat outfits showed exemplary skills of how they take on the enemies from across the border.  Interacting with the media, commandant of Army War College Lt General Anil Chait said army is dedicated to the country and with the help of its citizens it wants to take the country on the trajectory of success.  "Here we train 2000 officers of Indian Army every year along with around 100 officers of friendly foreign countries," said Chait.
India lags in construction of roads along border with China, admits government
NEW DELHI: The lumbering Elephant is finding it tough to keep pace with the Red Dragon. The government on Wednesday admitted only 15 of the 73 roads identified for construction along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control with China have been completed.  "Out of the 73 roads identified as strategic border roads, 15 have been completed, 39 are scheduled for completion by 2013 and the remaining 19 by 2016," said defence minister A K Antony in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.  "The main reasons for the slow progress are delay in forest/wildlife clearances, hard rock stretches, limited working seasons and inadequate air efforts to mobilize resources,'' he added.  The tardiness is stark since China has "aggressively'' strengthened its military capabilities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and elsewhere. This includes five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in TAR, which makes it possible for China to swiftly move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering Indian forces by at least 3:1, as reported by TOI earlier.  The 15 roads constructed by India measure around 600-km out of the total of 3,808 km required for the 73 all-weather roads. The 73 roads cover all the three sectors of LAC -western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) -and include more east-west lateral links as well as better access routes to strategic peaks and valleys.  The Army, alarmed at the excruciatingly slow progress in construction of the border roads, has been demanding that infrastructure build-up within 50 km of LAC as well as LoC with Pakistan should be exempted from requisite long-winded environmental and other clearances. India is taking other steps to shore up its defences against China. The measures range from planning a new mountain strike corps (over 45,000 troops) after raising two new mountain infantry divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers in Nagaland and Assam, to the progressive deployment of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, spy drones, helicopters and missile squadrons in the north-east.
‘Security is a concern for every Indian’
MUMBAI: National security is a concern for every Indian, Adarsh scam 'whistle-blower' Saurav Ray told the judicial commission on Wednesday.  Ray's statement came during his cross examination by Adarsh's counsel Manish Desai on whether he was academically qualified to term the building a security threat.  Ray said he had done his MA and MPhil from JNU where security issues were a part of his studies. "I am a defence officer and I think I am technically qualified for that purpose," Ray said while admitting that it was his personal opinion that Adarsh was a security threat. "No official of the army, navy or air force officially communicated to me that allocation of land to Adarsh would pose a security threat," Ray said.
On being questioned by the society's advocate, Ray said the security of the army and navy did not fall within his duties as a defence estate officer. He further said that the land was outside the cantonment areas. "I did not have instructions from the army or the navy when I made a request to the collector in June 2003 to transfer the land to the army."  Ray, however, did not agree that his request to the collector was beyond his powers. "I was making a report to safeguard the government interest at that time as all the top army and navy officers in Mumbai were not interested in pursuing the case," he added.  Ray said there was no record to show that the military had constructed a wall around the Khukri park that existed on Adarsh land or had spent money on maintaining it or that there were 100 trees on the plot.  Ray, however, stuck to his stand that the ownership of the land was ambiguous.
Heavier, more lethal Arjun tank poised for trials
Ajai Shukla / Avadi (chennai) November 24, 2011, 0:49 IST  Indigenously developed Mark-II gets critical acclaim from army, experts abroad.  A heavier, more protected Arjun tank, called the Arjun Mark II, is poised for army trials. Scheduled for January and June 2012, successful trials would be the green signal for building 124 Arjun Mark IIs at the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi, outside Chennai. These will supplement the 124 Arjuns Mark I already in frontline service.
Preparing the new Arjun for trials is the Central Vehicle R&D Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi, which steered the Arjun through a difficult and delayed development process; to its emergence as India’s premier main battle tank (MBT).  In March 2010, after the Arjun outperformed the vaunted Russian T-90S in performance trials in Rajasthan, an impressed Indian Army accepted 124 Arjuns into service. But the army has made a follow-on order conditional upon 93 improvements to the Arjun, including 19 major modifications. The CVRDE is finalising these modifications.  Business Standard visited Avadi for the media’s first detailed briefing and inspection of the Arjun Mark II. The Arjun Mark II’s most remarkable feature is its extra weight, 3-4 tonnes more than the earlier 62-tonne Arjun.  For years the army criticised the Arjun as too heavy for India’s road and rail infrastructure; now it wants modifications that will make the Arjun heavier. Fitting Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) plates on the tank has boosted crew protection, but also increases the weight by one and a half tonnes. An equivalent increase comes from added mine ploughs, which churn up the ground ahead of the tank, uprooting explosive mines that would otherwise blow up the tank.  But the Arjun Project leaders, V Balamurugan and GK Kumaravel, are unfazed by the weight gain. During gruelling trials this summer, the Arjun has demonstrated a crucial modification in the transmission system that makes the 65-66 tonne Arjun Mark II more agile than the lighter, 62-tonne Arjun Mark I. “We ran the modified Arjun for 1,300 kilometres, gradually loading dead weight until it was 65.5 tonnes. We demonstrated that its performance, acceleration, torque, working temperature and fuel consumption were better than the Arjun Mark I,” claimed Balamurugan.  The trade-off, though, is in maximum speed. The Arjun Mark II does just 60 kmph, compared with the 70 kmph top speed of the Arjun Mark I.  CVRDE chief, Dr P Sivakumar, an award-winning transmission specialist, is jubilant. “Earlier the army was criticising my Arjun [for weighing too much]. But, after seeing its cross-country performance, even compared with a lighter 40-tonne tank like the T-90, they realise that the Arjun moves like a Ferrari. Even at 65-66 tonnes, it will beat any MBT in the desert,” he promises.  That is endorsed by Israel Military Industries (IMI), which did a “third-party evaluation” of the Arjun. Israeli experts opine that the Arjun would outrun any competition.  Another crucial improvement in the Mark II is the tank commander’s thermal imaging (TI) night sight, which replaces the day-only sight of the earlier Arjun. Now the Arjun can operate at night in “hunter-killer” mode — the commander as hunter; and the gunner as killer. The commander scans the battlefield through his new TI sight; targets that he spots are electronically allocated to the gunner to destroy, while he returns to hunting for more targets.  The Mark II also equips the driver with a new night vision device based on “un-cooled thermal imaging”, allowing him to clearly see 300-500 metres, even on a pitch-dark night. The man who oversees the Arjun project, DRDO’s Chief Controller for Armament and Combat Engineering (CC-ACE), S Sundaresh, says: “Four major modifications — the mobility performance at 65.5 tonnes; the commander’s night sight; the driver’s night vision device, and ammunition containerisation — were validated this summer.”  Coming up for trials in January is an important new capability: missile firing through the Arjun Mark II’s main gun. Israeli LAHAT missiles were proof-fired from the Arjun in 2004, but the sighting and control systems are now being integrated into the gunner’s sight by its vendors, OIP Sensor Systems (Belgium) and SAGEM (France).  Just one crucial system will remain to be integrated after next year’s trials: a “laser warning counter measure system.” This senses the laser beam that incoming missiles ride, giving just 10-15 seconds of reaction time. Within milliseconds, the system automatically launches smoke grenades, creating a smokescreen around one’s own tank that leaves the missile operator without a target to aim at.
Indian Army to deploy ‘Rudra’ along Pakistan border
New Delhi: In a move to tighten security along the border with Pakistan, the Indian Army will deploy Rudra version of Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) armed with sophisticated air-to-air and anti-tank missiles soon.  According to sources, the Army is all set to replace the ageing fleet of helicopters and in this series they will introduce weaponised ‘Rudra’ version of light weight ‘Dhruv’ helicopter.  Presently, Rudra is in final stage and is integrated with 20 mm turret guns, 70 mm rockets and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM).  If the sources are to be believed, the Army is planning to induct 114 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) along the mountainous terrains. The LCH has already been tested on March 29, 2011. Besides, the Army is in final stage to induce 197 light observation helicopters to its paddock, sources said.  Presently, Indian Army has 250 choppers to protect the country.  Army officials are of the opinion that the expansion of weaponised choppers will also help maintaining security along the Indo-China border, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles.

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